The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Five Finds on Friday: Nathan Hatfield

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Would you like to do Five Finds on Friday? As part of a Thanksgiving tradition, next week’s picks will come from a reader chosen at random. Enter here.

Meanwhile, today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Nathan Hatfield, Executive Chef of the Tasting Room & Taphouse at Mount Ida Reserve. From Cookies with Santa to a Wreath Workshop to a Fireside Wine Dinner, Mount Ida’s holiday events calendar is stuffed. On December 8, Mount Ida will host more than twenty local artisans for a Holiday Artisan Market, where visitors can shop while sipping wine, drinking beer, and enjoying the stunning views. Details here. Hatfield’s picks:

1) Cortado at Lone Light Coffee. “Wonderful locally roasted espresso, milk steamed just right. Not to mention the staff is great too (at both locations). We used to live right around the corner from the High Street location and were there several mornings a week.”

2) Vongole Pizza at Lampo. “It’s hard for me not to order this every time we go to Lampo, and we go too often. Lampo is awesome, everyone knows, but if you haven’t gotten this pie, go on, now’s the time.”

3) Kale Caesar at Greenwood Gourmet Grocery. “One of our favorite go-to spots on days off. Some of the best sandwiches in town and an awesome wine and beer selection. Their super lemony kale salad hits all the right notes and will keep me going out of my way to come here.”

4) Sazerac at The Alley Light. “Most Sundays after work you can find me and my wife at the bar. It might be my first drink, it might be my last; either way, there’s a good chance I’ll have a Sazerac. The version Andrea makes in one of the best I’ve had.”

5) Beef Back Ribs at Little Star. “We’ve been going to Little Star since they opened and this dish we find ourselves ordering again and again. The rib meat is cooked just right, the sauce is bright and spicy, and there’s a fresh herb salad to balance it all out. It’s good. Get it.”

Vongole

 

Five Finds on Friday: Jeff White

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Blue Moon Diner has reopened, and today’s Five Finds on Friday come from a man who cooked there more than thirty years ago. Jeff White manned the grill of the Charlottesville icon from 1985-1987, married one of the waitresses, and, now, more than three decades later, is the top sports writer for the University of Virginia. For many UVa fans, his columns are daily must-reads. History class from White:

I started cooking for then-owner John Grier at the Blue Moon Diner late in my undergraduate days at UVa and continued working there (and down the street at the late, great Cotton Exchange, whose owners were Grier, John Hoy and Kirby Hutto) until moving to Richmond in 1987.

Back then, the Blue Moon’s grill was out front, a few feet from the counter, and the pressure of cooking in a packed diner ––– in full view of customers, with the jukebox blaring, while hungover on a weekend morning –– no doubt helped prepare me for the stress of writing newspaper stories on deadline.

Most important, the Blue Moon is where in 1986 I met Beth Pearce, whose brother Tom was a fellow cook. Beth later waitressed at the diner, and we were married in 1989.

It’s wonderful to see the Blue Moon open again, and it’s hard to go wrong with anything on its menu, which has expanded considerably since my time there. Here are five of my other favorites:

1) Hot Sicilian at Durty Nelly’s / Wayside Deli. “The GOAT when it comes to sandwiches. I’ve been placing the same order at Durty Nelly’s/Wayside Deli for 30-plus years and hope to continue doing so for another 30. It’s a heavenly combination of Genoa salami, turkey, provolone, onion, peppers and mayo on rye, all heated.”

2) Greg Brady at Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint. “The burgers at Jack Brown’s are, to me, the perfect size –– not too big, not too small ­–– and complementing the beef on this delicacy are mac and cheese, Martin’s BBQ potato chips, and a blend of American and cheddar cheeses. The fries are great, too, as is the selection of beers from around the world.

3) Burrito Michoacana at La Michoacana. “This low-key restaurant on East High Street was once a hidden gem, but its excellence has been common knowledge around town for years now. Keep the option of a post-lunch nap open after eating one of these burritos. You may need it.”

4) Ragin’ Cajun at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “I’m a sucker for andouille, and this pie also features Creole-spiced shrimp, green peppers, roasted red peppers and mozzarella. Dr. Ho’s, of course, has Blue Moon ties. Its founder, Jerry Danner, ran the diner after buying it from John Grier.”

5) Cookies and Cream Milkshake at Crozet Creamery. “A group of us in the athletic department has a tradition we hold dear. When one of the UVa teams we support (as writers, videographers, photographers, etc.) picks up a significant win –– almost any conquest of Virginia Tech qualifies as such – we celebrate by treating ourselves to milkshakes. My victory shake of choice is one of many fantastic offerings at my local ice cream parlor, whose other options include the (Jack) Salted Caramel.”

JeffBlueMoon

Jeff White, Blue Moon Diner, 1985

Tavola’s Secrets Revealed: New book with recipes from Charlottesville’s beloved Italian restaurant

tavolabook

As many Tavola regulars know, there is history behind the restaurant’s unusual take on carbonara, the popular Roman pasta dish with a sauce of eggs, cheese, and either pancetta or guanciale. While Tavola chef-owner Michael Keaveny includes all of those in his linguine carbonara, he also adds something rarely seen in the dish: sausage. Why? That’s the way Keaveny learned how to make it.

As a teeanger in Hartford, Connecticut, Keaveny lived just around the corner from the legendary Italian-American restaurant Carbone’s. Growing up, Keaveny says, it was “kind of a given” that he would work at Carbone’s as soon as he was old enough. There, where Keaveny started as a dishwasher before working his way up, the carbonara always included sausage.  That was the way Keaveny figured it was supposed to be made. Plus, he says, it was delicious. And so, when, many years later Keaveny opened his own Italian restaurant, his carbonara contained sausage, just like at Carbone’s.

Has it been a hit? Well, yes. Tavola recently marked its tenth anniversary, and in its first decade served 24,593 plates of linguine carbonara.

And now, you can make it yourself.

To celebrate the ten year mark, Tavola has released a book, tavola – 10 greatest hits, music and food, with recipes of some of the restaurant’s most beloved dishes. Because Keaveny’s ingredient-driven approach to food often minimalizes chef intrusion, many of the dishes are not difficult to execute at home. Available online and at New Dominion, among other outlets, the book also includes recommended pairings, both wine and music.

So, what sounds good with Tavola’s linguine carbonara?  Bod Dylan’s When I Paint My Masterpiece.